Interview: Why Cloud for E-Commerce?

With more organizations than ever considering moving their eCommerce platforms to the cloud in 2016, I thought it was the perfect time to chat with someone who was right at the source of a commerce cloud platform. So I sat down with Rahul Pruthi, Sr. Product Manager at Mozu, to discuss his thoughts on why so many brands are looking to move to a cloud-based eCommerce platform, along with the misconceptions and benefits around cloud commerce.

Kali: What common pain points do you see clients struggling with before moving to the SaaS eCommerce platform, Mozu?
Rahul: Prior to switching, many retailers are often relying on a homegrown system or a platform that's not flexible or easily extensible and is expensive to manage. They spend a lot of time worrying about maintenance and upkeep for their platform, rather than focusing on what's most important -- delivering the omnichannel experiences customers expect, leading to engaging shopping experiences and increased purchases. Additionally, upgrades to homegrown solutions -- and other fragmented solutions -- have been difficult to manage and cannot easily connect with third party solution providers. All of this results in heavy reliance on IT, often consuming unnecessary time and energy and increasing the total cost of ownership.

KK: Ouch, that does sound time-consuming and burdensome. When talking to these clients, what kind of misconceptions about SaaS eCommerce do you have to debunk?
RP: Clients who are thinking about making the move to SaaS eCommerce are sometimes worried about the cost. However, with SaaS, costs are more predictable than with traditional on-premise platforms. For example, with Mozu, clients can expect fair, usage-based pricing that delivers economies of scale--a solution that's predictable in cost and can scale as the business grows. Over time, companies save money with SaaS, as they won't be dealing with hardware support costs or hidden fees that sometimes come with data center hosting and
new site licenses. Another misconception about SaaS is that businesses have to give up = flexibility and power to meet unique business needs. However, at Mozu we are proud to offer a healthy balance of power and convenience.

KK: Do you see any trend to the size or type of organization that is moving to SaaS (B2B vs B2C, over or under specific revenue amounts, etc.)?
RP: While B2C businesses have generally been quicker to move to SaaS than B2B, we've still seen our platform fulfill a big B2B need. Expectations are changing, and a better understanding of customers and their behaviors is equally important to B2C and B2B clients, along with a comprehensive digital strategy that unifies their commerce activities across multiple channels. SaaS platforms are a nice choice for a large variety of businesses, especially for mid-market and enterprise retailers that want to react quickly to changing trends and meet customers where they already are.

KK: So once a client has replatformed or launched a new store on Mozu, what benefits do they typically see?
RP: Lots... The most immediate benefit is a simplified commerce experience; retailers can make changes across devices simultaneously using a single tool. Mozu's administrative toolkit is so easy to use that popular fashion retailer Bluefly was able to completely redesign their site in just six days. Perhaps most important in today's smartphone world, we help retailers optimize the bottom line through higher rates in mobile conversion and revenue. Bluefly experienced a 39% lift in mobile conversion and a 14% increase in mobile revenue. Retailer Sigma Beauty saw a 42% increase in mobile sales, while GORUCK saw a 65% lift in the same category.

KK: Anything else you think folks should know about SaaS eCommerce?
RP: SaaS eCommerce can be one of the greatest ways to bring more control to a business, alongside reducing the burden, time and money spent on upgrades, hardware and reliance on IT. When switching to a SaaS solution, retailers should expect (and demand) a flexible solution that can seamlessly integrate with third party solutions (ERP, CRM etc.), which quite often goes hand-in-hand with a robust API. Additionally, a modern SaaS solution should be easy to use for both business and technical users. It should provide a ton of support in the form of functional and technical documentation, support staff and a quick response time to issues and bugs.
A SaaS eCommerce platform should simplify the effort it takes to provide customers with connected digital experiences across all contemporary devices and channels. As a result, it should turn shopping into a seamless experience, with the opportunity to build long-term brand loyalty within the customer base and positively impact the bottom line.

What are your thoughts on cloud for commerce? Is your organization looking to
make the move? And if so, what are the main reasons why? If you are already on
a cloud-based eCommerce platform, what are the biggest benefits you've seen
so far?